Dang it’s hot!

While we revel in our great weather — and I’m glad I don’t live in Las Vegas or Phoenix — the results of millions of individual and corporate actions are adding up. It’s hotter sooner and worse, humidity seems to be rising around here.

I attended a lecture during earth week by Dr. Mark Theimens, Dean of Natural Resources at UCSD and a Nobel-prize winning chemist. His topic was the current status of science relating to global warming.

First he addressed what is the role of science.

“My job is to do the best job I can to be neutral. This is what we know and how we know it, this is what we sort of know, this is what we could know with more research.”

Then he addressed what the scientific data means.

“There is no argument (that humans are warming the atmosphere) and scientists haven’t argued about this for ten years. It’s just being accepted more widely now. The fossil fuel burning and combustion that is manmade — there is no mistake about it. This is not theory. This is measurement. “

He also discussed the nitrogen-related impacts as critical to biodiversity and agriculture — this is his research documenting the flow of dust and pollutants from Asia that lands right here in San Diego. He sampled and studied the air pollution as it moves across the globe. It takes five days to transport. “Day after day, this is not a small thing. It includes particles that affect cardiovascular systems, oncology, agriculture and biodiversity.”

“Everybody lives downstream from somebody. Everybody’s guilty. Everybody’s connected. The planet has no boundaries and the environment is connected.”

What can we do?

“All the wind, all the solar, all nuclear cannot currently solve it. It’s a large problem. It’s scary. It’s a really a big issue that cannot be solved with current technologies. The hydrogen economy is a good idea; but there is much R&D to do. Fuel alternatives are important — but not the wrong ones. Which bio-fuel really matters?”

And in response to my question: what is the single biggest place where the public could make a difference?

“If you want to work on something big outside of science, mass transport would be it.”

What are the biggest GW research problems related to chemistry?

1. Global Warming impacts. He is going to Greenland in June to dig out the ice samples needed to determine key historical transport issues in the northern hemisphere to continue the research already completed on a similar trip to Antarctica. Given that most population lives in the northern hemisphere, the results of this research trip should be quite illuminating.

2. Global warming emissions from the world’s shipping industry — the least regulated and worst source with the dirtiest fuels; This has big impacts to California with so much shipping traffic going past to the Panama Canal.

Some of the best scientists in the world work right here. I only wish more politicians and voters would actually listen to what they have to say.


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